Clarence Pier

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Clarence Pier.

Clarence Pier is an amusement pier in Portsmouth, Hampshire. It is located next to Southsea Hoverport. Unlike most seaside piers in the UK, the pier does not extend very far out to sea and instead goes along the coast.

The pier was originally constructed in 1861 and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and opened in its current form in 1961.

The main entrance to the pier from the road is via a striking pavilion building with distinctive yellow and blue cladding and a small tower. This originally housed an amusement arcade and cafe although in more recent years, the upper floor has variously been used for "Pirate Pete's" indoor children's playground, a Wimpy bar while the 'Golden Horseshoe' amusement arcade and Coffee Cup (originally a prize bingo hall) remain on the ground floor.

A smaller building, perpendicular but not physically joined to the main pavilion houses another amusement arcade, the "Clarence Pier" (Originally called "Wheel Of Fortune") and some small gift shops. The upper floor was originally used as a public house, but in 1994 it was converted into 'Jurassic 3001', a futuristic dinosaur themed dark ride. The ride's exterior featured an animatronic triceratops, whose head protruded from the side of the building and roared occasionally at passers-by. The attraction closed in 2001, yet all ride signage and theming on the building remained until the end of 2011. The upper floor space previously occupied by this ride underwent a conversion to apartments, according to planning publications, in 2012.

A Building at the side of the Funfair houses an arcade called "Games Wharf" and "The Boat House" (originally another Coffee Cup).

The main funfair operates on a free admission, pay-per-ride token-based system. In the early 1980s, the amusement park was named "Fun Acres" and as well as the whole pier itself, it also took up 3500 sq metres of land or so to the North West of the Northern part of the pier. This part of the park was cleared and redeveloped as Another arcade called "Southsea Island Leisure", The Clarence Pier Public House, a crazy golf course and a Premier Inn during the 1990s, therefore the park itself is significantly smaller than it used to be. The old part of the park contained the 56-seat Corbiere Spherical Ferris Wheel[1] and a ghost train among other attractions. The token booths were shaped as mushrooms.

The pier viewed from gosport

One of the main landmarks of Clarence Pier until the mid-1990s was the Super Loop ride, since removed. The Ferris wheel was sold and relocated to Pleasureland Southport.[2] One ride which lasted the duration and remains to this day is the Skyways roller coaster. A new addition to the pier is a pirate-themed crazy golf course situated behind the Clarence Pier arcade.

"Mind The Baby, Mr. Bean", an episode of British TV comedy series "Mr. Bean" was filmed on location at Clarence Pier (as well as other locations in Southsea). This was prior to the closure of the North Western part of the park and the closure of the Wheel Of Fortune public house. The episode shows the Super Loop, Skyways roller coaster, and many of the park's other attractions from that time. Clarence Pier was also the filming location to the teen pop band, "S Club Juniors" song, "Fool No More" filmed mainly on the dodgems but the rollercoaster, 'Skyways' can also be seen in the video.

Attractions[edit]

Operating[edit]

Name Opened Description
Solent Wheel 2016 Clarence Pier's Newest ride is a 110 ft wheel located next to the Waltzer. The wheel contains 24 carriages (including a V.I.P. Carriage) which. An sit up to 6 people (V.I.P. carridge can sit up to 4 people) however it is a separate administration from the park. Park Tokens are accepted. This attraction will be removed after 2016.
Circus Train 2016 A Juvenile train ride with a locomotive and three carriages. This is the first ride at the pier to be operated via a remote control unit, carried by the person operating the ride.
Pirate Castle 2016 An inflatable castle, located under Skytrail.
Toy Carousel 2016 A mini Carousel ride. It is located next to Skyways.
Flying Dumbos 2015 an Arial Carousel ride themed as elephants.
Air Balloon Ride 2011 A flying and spinning ride themed as balloons. It was originally located near Skyways, but was relocated next to the Speedy Coaster and Dodgems for the 2016 season.
Speedy Gonzales/Speedy Coaster 2011 A Junior Coaster themed as the Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzales.
Crazy Cranes unknown a bunch of Claw Machines located near the Skyways Roller Coaster.
Balloon Wheel 2010 a Ferris Wheel themed as Balloons. Was originally located in the space between the Waltzer/Twister and the now-removed Formula 2000, but was moved next to the back of the Golden Horseshoe arcade to make way for the Solent Wheel.
Skyways 1980 A Galaxi Roller Coaster. Originally known as "The Wild Mouse". Today it remains the oldest ride at Clarence Pier that is still standing.
Twister Unknown A traditional Twister Ride. 3 people can sit per car with a total of 12 cars.
Carousel 1990's A traditional Carousel. It replaced an older set.
Pirate Golf Early 2000's A pirate themed mini golf course, it is separate administration than the rest of the park.
Dodgems Unknown a traditional Bumper Cars ride. Up to 1 or 2 people can fit per car.
Sky Trail/Pier Pressure 2011 A High Ropes Course.
Tea Cups Unknown A small Teacups ride with 5 cups seating up to four children each. This set underwent a major renovation for the 2016 season with the addition of Disney artwork.
Waltzer unknown A traditional Waltzer.

Former Attractions[edit]

Name Opening Removal Description
Breakdance 2015 2016 A traditional Breakdance ride. It was owned by an independent operator who sited the ride at the pier for the 2015 season. The Circus Train sits were the Breakdance was.
Flying Kiddie Cars 2015 2016 A spinning car ride which was located next to the Breakdance. It was owned by the same operator as the Breakdance and both rides were opened and removed in the same year.
Formula 2000 2002 2016 A small ride where a train of cars goes along a small circuit with a bridge. Was removed in 2016 to make way for the Solent Wheel.
Swing Tower 2013 2015 A mini Swing Tower. was removed in 2015 and was replaced with a Breakdance.
Extreme Rotor 2012 2014 A Rotor.
Mega Dance 2012 2013 A breakdance. Was replaced with Swing Tower in 2013.
Toon Town Express Unknown 2012 A kiddy ride themed as trains.
Jets 2010 2012 A small flying planes ride.
FEAR 2011 2012 A touring Horror House.
Walking Waters 2011 2012 Unknown attraction.
Disko 2005 2011 A Disko Ride. The ride was removed in 2011 and the Dodgems have moved into the Disko's place.
The Cyclone 2007 2011 A unique ride with peddels which makes the ride go 360 Degrees.
Chair-O-Planes 2009 2010 a swing ride.
Tri Star 2009 2010 An tristar attraction. Replaced The Extreme and was replaced by the Balloon Wheel in 2010.
Wild River 2000 2010 A traditional travelling Log Flume. The ride was removed in 2010 and the area where it was left empty for a year. Sky Trail and Speedy Gonzales are now in place of this.
The Extreme 2007 2009 A Breakdance type ride. Replaced The Power Tower and was replaced by a Tri Star in 2009.
The Power Tower 2001 2007 A Drop tower which was the tallest spring tower ride in Europe. Was replaced by The Extreme in 2007.
Paratrooper unknown 2005 An paratrooper ride.
The Bounce 2003 2004 An Ariel Carousel type ride.
Grand National 2003 2004 A ride where guests operate horses on a guided track.
Its A Small World 2001 2002 A dark ride which took guests through various scenes of different countries around the world. The ride is unrelated to the Disney ride of the same name.
Jumping Star unknown 2002 A small drop tower.
Magic Ring unknown 2002 A small kiddy car ride.
Monster Express unknown 2002 A haunted house like attraction.
Octopus unknown 2002 A small Carousel type ride themed as an octopus.
Jungle Train unknown 2002 A train ride.
Wave Rave unknown 2002 A 'Miami' ride.
Jurassic 3001 1994 2001 A dark ride themed on the premise of dinosaurs returning from extinction in the year 3001. (Also referred to as 'Jurassic 3001 A.D.' on ride signage). This was housed on the second floor of the Wheel of Fortune (Now Clarence Pier) arcade. The facade included a robotic triceratops that roared at guests passing by. The ride closed in 2001, but all theming remained on the building until 2012. The space where the attraction used to be is now apartments.
Aeroplanes/Jets late 60s? unknown Aeroplanes you can control (up/down) spinning round a globe. Originally built as space planes orbiting a planet (or moon) which originally had multiple model astronauts attached to it.
Slide unknown Late 80's A large multi-lane fibreglass slide. Built on the north-west end of Clarence Pier. Riders would walk up a long staircase on the side of the slide carrying straw or hemp slide mats with themselves. The slide lanes were of several contrasting colours and contained an equal number of gentle humps. Removed and replaced with the Centrifuge ride.
Centrifuge Late 80's Early 2000's A large centrifugal force ride where riders would be pinned to the inner wall of the large spinning centrifuge wheel which would also elevate upwards to near right angle. Removed and relocated near to the Skyways rollercoaster when the site was replaced with the Premier Inn hotel.
Dodgems unknown Early 2000's A traditional dodgem "bumper cars" arena. Built on the north-central area of Clarence Pier, between the Slide (later, the Centrifuge) and the Big Wheel. Removed and replaced with the Premier Inn hotel. Relocated near to Skyways rollercoaster.
The Big Wheel 1964 2001 A 56-seat Corbiere Spherical Ferris Wheel. Built on the north-east area of Clarence Pier, between the Dodgems arena and the Carousel. Sold and relocated to Pleasureland Southport in 2001. The site was then used for the mini golf course.
Gallopers 1954 Early 2000's A traditional spinning horse carousel. Built on the north-east side of Clarence Pier, between the Big Wheel and the Ghost Train. Replaced in 1997 with a different model with a striped canopy. Removed and replaced with the mini golf course. Relocated near to Skyways rollercoaster.
Ghost Train unknown Early 2000's A traditional style ghost train. Built on the north-east end of Clarence Pier. Removed and replaced with the mini golf course.

Ferris wheel proposals [edit]

The Solent Eye Ferris wheel was proposed by Billy Manning Ltd[3] for Clarence Pier in 2007.[4] On 17 October, permission for a 130-foot tall (40 m) wheel was granted,[5] but two days later it was revealed that Portsmouth City Councillors wished the wheel was bigger. As a result, the original plans, which were for a 180-foot tall (55 m) wheel, were revived[6] and conditional planning permission subsequently granted on 19 December 2007.[7] It was expected to cost £2 million.[3] The plans were scrapped because the wheel was too large. In 2015, a revived plan for a 110 ft wheel was sent. It was approved and opened in Easter 2016. Despite the popularity of the wheel, it was confirmed in September 2016 that the Solent Wheel will be taken down and sent elsewhere.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°47.164′N 1°06.068′W / 50.786067°N 1.101133°W / 50.786067; -1.101133